Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teach for America Expanding into Applachia


National Nonprofit Joins Local Effort to Expand
Educational Opportunity in Eastern Kentucky

This from Teach for America:

Teach For America announced today that it will expand to Appalachia, with plans to bring at least 30 top college graduates to teach in some of Eastern Kentucky’s highest-need schools for the 2011-12 school year. The organization also outlined plans to bring at least 30 additional teachers in each of the following two years. Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and supporters from across the state joined a press conference at the Kentucky Department of Education to announce the organization’s 41st region. Teach For America recruits, trains, and supports outstanding recent graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity.

“We have great teachers in Eastern Kentucky, and I’m excited that these new educators are joining their ranks,” said Lieutenant Governor Mongiardo. “I am confident the excitement and enthusiasm these young teachers bring will be contagious for our schools and I thank Teach for America for its part in helping to improve the lives of Eastern Kentucky school children.”

“I’m very excited to welcome Teach For America to the Appalachian region,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “One of the key recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Transforming Education in Kentucky was to recruit high-quality individuals to increase the pool of talented teachers. Teach For America, with its emphasis on recruiting from a variety of backgrounds, majors and professional experiences, will help us answer that call and improve educational opportunities for children.”

Launching its 20th-anniversary year last May, Teach For America fielded 4,500 new corps members from an applicant pool of more than 46,000. Among the 8,200 current corps members teaching in urban and rural school districts across 31 states and the District of Columbia, some 85 are from or attended school in Kentucky. Teach For America received nearly 48,000 applications for its 2011 corps, including more than 600 from individuals in Kentucky.

“Teach For America has been working to find the right entry point into Appalachia for a number of years, and we’re grateful for the leadership of the state legislature and the Education Professional Standards Board in reaching this point,” said Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America. “We're excited to join the region’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its education system and look forward to recruiting and developing individuals who will work alongside other committed educators to expand educational opportunity for Eastern Kentucky's children.”

Teach For America selected Appalachia as an expansion site for the coming school year based on interest from state and school district leaders in partnering with the organization to provide an additional pipeline of effective teachers to address the region’s significant achievement gap. Another determining factor was state legislation enacted last year that enables Teach For America corps members to obtain teacher certification.

Teach For America corps members will apply for open positions in high-need schools in the Floyd, Knox, and Martin county school districts, and the organization will open a central office in Hazard. Teach For America will continue to pursue partnerships with additional school districts over the coming weeks.

During today’s announcement, Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear delivered a video message welcoming Teach For America to the state. “Governor Beshear and I are delighted to welcome Teach for America as a partner in our state’s effort to improve educational outcomes for all Kentucky students,” Mrs. Beshear said. “For more than 20 years, Teach for America has harnessed the energy of thousands of our nation’s most promising young leaders in the effort to close the achievement gap that negatively impacts students growing up in poverty. Teach for America is a valuable resource for many of Kentucky’s most impoverished communities that complements the work of other great educators across our state.”

A broad coalition of supportive community groups, corporations, local philanthropists, and school leaders made the Appalachia region of eastern Kentucky an ideal location for Teach For America. Lead investors include Kentucky River Properties, Inez Deposit Bank, the Kentucky Department of Education, and philanthropists Edith Bingham, Molly Bingham, Eleanor Miller, and Paul Chellgren...

A revised 2009 Urban Institute study found that high school students taught by Teach For America teachers outperformed their peers, even those taught by fully certified teachers. The study used cross-subject student and school fixed effects models to estimate TFA effects.

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